Ernie Els will try and recreate that special ‘Wentworth’ feeling at The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson this week as he attempts to bring his sensational World Match Play record to bear in the WGC - Accenture version.
The 38 year old South African possesses one of the strangest anomalies in golf; namely he is virtually untouchable in the World Match Play at Wentworth, having won the title on seven occasions, but similarly poor in the Accenture Match Play, having progressed past the second round on only one occasion in seven attempts.
Indeed, in the past three outings, Els has fallen at the first hurdle; beaten respectively by Phil Tataurangi and Bernhard Langer in the tournament’s previous venue, La Costa, and Bradley Dredge at The Gallery Golf Club last year. In fact, he was not even in the field for this year’s event in Arizona until changing his mind and entering last Tuesday.
Now he will begin against Jonathan Byrd of the United States in Wednesday’s first round but not before taking time out to try and explain the reasons behind the match play differences on each side of the Atlantic.
“I think a major influence might be because I am sleeping in my own bed, I don’t have to fly 12 hours to get there,” he said. “There is obviously of course the difference between playing 36 hole matches at Wentworth and only 18 here which doesn’t give you much time to recover.
“At Wentworth it is also a different time of year and a different golf course entirely – it is just totally different circumstances I suppose.
“So basically, I have just got to try and have my game here this week. I haven’t had my game here in previous years and was tending to wait for guys to make mistakes. But of course, they didn’t and so they beat me.
“But I really like this golf course, it is in fine shape, great shape really and the greens are running really nicely and we don’t have standing water around the place. That is not to take anything away from La Costa, they just had bad luck seemingly every time we went there.
“Even with the Mercedes Championship there (on the US PGA Tour) we seemed to have bad weather so I was quite excited when they moved it. Then of course, I lost in the first round here last year too!
“I can’t quite put my finger on it but all I can say is that my mindset has got to be different this year and I think it will be. This is a really good golf course for match play and I am looking forward to it.”